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When the Olympics came to town

Moovit was selected by the powers at City Hall Rio to to handle the expected half a million tourists and 11, 544 athletes descending on the city this August.

Real time traffic management at COR
Real time traffic management at COR

The Moovit app is available and free to download in over 1,200 cities in 67 countries worldwide, and has more than 45 million users

Moovit had to change a staggering 2314 routes that were impacted during the games

When the Olympics came to town
Moovit app helping visitors and athletes arrive at Olympic venues on time
Moovit app helping visitors and athletes arrive at Olympic venues on time

Moovit lived up to its name during the Olympics in Rio this summer. The world’s most popular public transport app that provides users with real-time information about the fastest and most comfortable routes for their journeys, was selected by City Hall, Rio back in February to handle the expected half a million tourists and 11, 544 athletes descending on the city this August.


The Moovit app is available and free to download in over 1,200 cities in 67 countries worldwide, and has more than 45 million users. Prior to the start of the Games it had 13 million users in Brazil with two million of those in Rio.


Once the app provider had been identified as an Olympic transport partner, it was further promoted by Visit.Rio (the official tourist information site from the Tourist Secretary of Rio) on its website, app, social media channels and print magazines.


The Operations Centre also promoted Moovit on its social media channels and recommended the app to its followers.


RioCard, the public transit contactless card purchased by visitors, included printed flyers about Moovit together with every RioCard sold.


Beyond that, the Secretary of Transport and the CEO of the Operations Center suggested during various press conferences that Moovit should be used during the games.


" Moovit is very particular in that it uses publicly available transport data mixed with crowd-sourced data from users,” says Yovav Meydad, Moovit VP products and marketing.


“Apps like this are becoming travellers’ best friends as they eliminate the guessing game so often involved in travel, giving back valuable time that can be used on other things and making a journey smoother and stress free. This will become ever more important as city populations expand."


The only way to travel to the Olympic venues was via public transport and therefore Moovit data had to be updated with the Olympic Routes – the preferred routes to get to the Games competition clusters.


Data from the new BRT Transolimpica, Metro Line 4 and VLT (Light Rail) was added with comprehensive data about stations, routes and timetables.


In addition, Moovit had to change a staggering 2314 routes that were impacted during the games because of roadblocks or street competitions such as the triathlon and marathon.


Prior to the Games, Moovit was available in 38 languages. Another four were added for the Games and voice over/talk back support was available in all for visually impaired users.


A web version of the app ( was also developed and launched initially to the public prior to the start of the Games, so that visitors also had the chance to plan itineraries and trips from their desktops and web browsers.


Moovit developed the ability to send hyper targeted and localised push messages that informed users during the games about service disruptions, last minute changes and what is the best route to their hotels, especially at night hours (to address the personal safety concerns of some visitors). During the three-week period of the games, it sent out more than 3.5 millions pushes to users.


It also hired a person to work within the CIMU (Integrated Center for Urban Mobility) at COR (Rio Operation Centre). Working at the centre allowed Moovit to inform its users in real-time about any transit and traffic change via push messages and in-app pop-ups to provide the most accurate and up to date information available.


Moovit has enjoyed a relationship with COR since 2014, and in May this year further deepened the partnership by integrating the Moovit user reports into COR´s database (Geoportal) so that COR staff are able to visualise on large screens when and where Moovit app users users are reporting different service conditions and changes (late bus, crowdedness, driver ranking, no A/C and more).


"When you have access to big data, and crucially how that data is ordered, organised and analysed, it can play a central role in the planning of any aspect of mobility,” says Meydad.


“Knowing where, when and how people will be travelling assists transit companies, town planners, and all the roles involved in between, to provide a truly functioning and useful network that travellers benefit from," he adds.


Post-Games analysis by the Department of Transportation in Rio (SETRANS) has reported that 13.9 million passengers used the subway system between August 5 and 21, with the largest boarding number on August 17, when more than 1.1 million passengers were transported.


The rail system registered just over 9.8 million journeys, 1.467 million of which were spectators of the games.


In addition, the ferries registered an increase of 40 per cent in demand with over 1,400,000 people using this transportation system.


Additionally, the numbers provided by the Municipal Secretary of Transportation (SMTR) demonstrated that BRT system carried 11.7 million passengers during the days of competitions. Of these, approximately 2.2 million were fans and workers who used the means of transport for the event. The daily average on the transport network during the Games was about 700 thousand passengers.


The attendance record happened on the 12th August when 855.000 people used conventional and deployed services to travel to the competition.


Following this trend, Moovit also recorded an exponential increase in the number of app users. One week before the event, the new user average jumped 12 per cent, achieving an increase of 30 per cent when the Games began. The numbers of travel (full routes search) also skyrocketed, with an increase of 82 per cent compared to the monthly average (July 2016).


The Olympics prepared Moovit for the Paralympic Games held a fortnight later. For this, Moovit also had to update all the Olympic Routes to Paralympic Routes although daily operations continued in much the same way.


With Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, Moovit will not be drawn on any special relationship that may develop. However, the company continues to strive towards the most accurate information in all cities round the globe.


Its main strategy is to continue to partner with more cities hosting large-scale events to improve the ease and efficiency of urban mobility.


Moovit has a proven track record in events such as Brazil’s Football World Cup 2014, Copa America Chile 2015, Cardinals Inauguration in Rome 2014 (3-4 million tourists in a weekend), Mobile World Congress in Barcelona amongst many others, so Japan it seems will be a logical step.


Says Meydad: "The Olympics offered Moovit the chance to really show the power of its data, and the huge benefit that the data could provide to a city during exceptional circumstances. It was a very significant test case and the app passed with flying colours. It’s definitely something that we’re now able to confidently say we can assist with."


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